Nude photography is a topic that can make someone uncomfortable, but it’s a very popular genre.
It has always been.
I see nude photography as an art form and that’s what I want to talk about. Some photographers create unbelievable work with nude photos and they’re worth all the respect as well as the models.
In this article, I want to highlight some of the strict rules to follow if you want to start shooting nude photos as well as some useful tips.
Please note: To respect the sensitivity of all the readers, nudity is not directly visible in the images below.
Why Nude Photography?
Nude photography is a sub-genre of portrait photography.
It’s a controversial genre and while some people like this art form, others find it indecent and vulgar.
Modern fine artists often use nude photography as a means to create a conversation and make people more sensitive to topics such as physical taboos, in a non-erotic way.
As Wikipedia states here, nude photography is also often used for scientific research and educational aims.
Nude Photography: Make the Model Feel Comfortable
This is a fundamental rule.
Especially if the model is not an expert, you need to make her feel relaxed and at ease. Engage in a conversation. Feel relaxed yourself.
Ask simple questions: if she likes pizza, what’s her favorite food, tell her in advance that you’re going to ask these questions to create a relaxed vibe.
Also, you don’t want to sound awkward or creepy, asking too many personal questions. So don’t ever cross the boundaries.
Finally, tell her that whenever she feels okay to start, you’re ready too. That way, she will feel in control of the situation and relax even more.
P.S. Don’t forget to turn the heater on, she’ll get cold pretty fast.
Neutral Background in Nude Photography
Make use of a neutral background to bring beautiful results in an easy way. An empty wall or a white bed will be perfect for this.
Try to avoid objects, furniture, or decorations in the background that will take the attention away from the subject.
Don’t ask for Complex Poses for Easy Nude Photography
Simplicity is key.
Asking for difficult poses could put stress on the model. Unless it’s a particular request, and especially if you are at the beginning, keep it simple.
There are cases when you want the model to move a lot and assume difficult poses, maybe if she a gymnast or an athlete. But as a general rule, the more you move around the better it is for the model to get as less stressed as possible.
Full Nudity is not Always Necessary
Let’s debunk this myth. As you can see from the photos in this blog post a lot of photos don’t involve frontal or total nudity.
In nude photography, you can highlight beauty and convey an emotion even by having the model covering parts of her body.
Not all nude photos have to be erotic!
Nude Photography Anonymity Hide Their Faces
You can strategically hide the model’s face and create mistery in your images.
Sometimes this also helps if you want the model to keep anonymity and you want to use a couple of images for your portfolio or add them to your Instagram.
Be sure you talk about this in advance with her.
Which leads to the next nude photography tip.
Plan Your Shooting With the Model
Decide the list of photos you want to take in advance and get the model involved in the process.
This will help a lot by minimizing the time between each shot and the next pose. It will also make the model know what she has to do in advance and it will result in more natural photos.
Talk to her, know what’s her previous experience and what type of photos she’s willing to shoot.
Discuss the props you want to use, and have everything ready with you when it’s time to start shooting.
Remember you have a naked person in front of you and you want the process to be as smooth and professional as possible. Don’t make her wait until you find your stuff.
Be very respectful of your models.
Props in Nude Photography
Make your photos more interesting and tell a story by adding props.
Don’t overdo it. Keep it simple. And use items that the model feels happy with.
A musical instrument or a veil could be easy ideas.
Nude Photography: What Focal Length?
By using a longer focal length (85mm or more) you will be able to be further away from the model and make her feel more free and less intimidated.
As you gain experience and maybe have worked more than once with the same model or even in a second phase of the same shot, you can try with a 50mm lens or even 35mm to get a bit closer and more personal.
The Use of Black and White in Nude Photography
Black and White is a good way to add an artistic touch and elegant vibe to your photographs.
If you shoot RAW (you should always shoot RAW) you can decide to discard the color and go black and white later in post-production.
Black and White pictures help highlighting shapes with creativity and conceal imperfections. Models love it.
To try something different and spark your creativity you can organize a nude photography session outdoor. There aren’t any written rules that say you should take nude photos in a studio.
Be careful though that you are shooting in a private location and avoid any law infringement.
Nude Photography: Focus on the Details
Compositional elements of photography can be applied to nude photography as well.
You can make use of lines in the body and empty space to create details and captivating images.
Play With Light
Light is always your friend even in nude photography. Use it at your advantage to design interesting shadows and shapes falling on the body and create patterns.
With a clever use of light, you can achieve dramatic and unique effects.
Nude Photography: Use More Than one Model
You can use a couple or if your model is comfortable in doing so she could pose next to another model.
Even though it may seem simple, composing a photo like this can be quite challenging.
Models have to establish a good feeling. They could assume the same pose or have similar make-ups for example.
They don’t have to feel in competition but softly connected with each other.
Silhouette photos can be another way to achieve anonymity.
Also, they can have a very strong artistic effect since they add mistery.
Producing a silhouette shot is as easy as placing a source of light behind the model.
Check your aperture, switch off the flash to avoid any light from the front and you’re done.
Color and contrast correction are always a must.
Editing in Lightroom is necessary especially if you shoot in RAW which will produce flatten colors.
Don’t overdo it and find your style. When you’ve achieved a result that satisfies your taste, you can make a Lightroom preset to easily reuse in future shots and keep your style consistent.
Respect and ethics first of all.
You can’t ever touch the model.
I put this tip at the end because I want it to be the first thing you remember.
A good way to improve your communication and have the model moving to a different pose is to have examples of previously taken photos to show her so that she knows what to do.
If you’re thinking about starting with nude photography, I hope that this article inspired you and gave you some useful tips.
This genre of photography can help you find your creative voice and improve in a lot of aspects of photography.
What’s your take on this type of art?
Let me know what you think leaving a comment below!
Stefano Caioni is a photographer from Sydney, Australia. Founder and editor of Pixinfocus, his passion for photography helps him explore new places and live new adventures. Thanks to photography he reconnected with the outdoors and was able to travel the world and take photos of some of the most beautiful places on Earth.